eBay Decides ‘No’ Means ‘Yes’

eBay, the world’s most popular auction site, told users that registered
between April and November last year that their preferences for e-mails and other
communications will be changed; users will now be actively marketed to via e-mail and
the telephone unless they change their settings back before 23 January.

The company justifies this by saying that there was a bug in the system. Questions
asked during the registration process — questions like “Do you want to receive calls
from telemarketers?” — were set by default to “no”, when they all should have defaulted
to “yes”. Suddenly realizing that many customers may just have pressed the
“continue” button without understanding what they were doing, eBay graciously
changed all their preferences so that, unless they go and change their preferences
back, roughly 6 million users will begin receiving spam and telemarketing calls.

How very thoughtful. It seems that those dot-coms that have survived are adopting
some of the more predatory marketing practices usually associated with the Old
Economy, such as Opt-Out marketing and changing policies after acceptance by users.

For example, Amazon.com changed its privacy policy last year so that customer
information -like e-mail addresses- is now considered a saleable business asset. And
AOL requires that customers opt-out every year or start receiving marketing e-mails
from the company.

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